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Continual trouble adapting to pure context categories

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  • Continual trouble adapting to pure context categories

    I have been using GTD for some time now. I have seen many variants of GTD through this forum. Perhaps this is what makes this system so usable -- one can adapt it to fit his/her lifestyle/work environment!

    Now, one problem that I STILL have problems with is categorizing all of my next actions by context -- @calls, @computer, etc. I still find it most efficient for me if I use my life role categories -- @scientist, @mentor, @Family, etc. I have a computer wherever I am working -- in my office, my home office, my laptop on trips.

    I guess I am asking for comments again on this. I know this is categorizing next actions at more of the 20,000 feet level, but dumbing it down to @computer, @calls just doesn't seem to work that well for me.

    Comments, suggestions?


  • #2

    Hi there,

    From your post, I understand you're looking for the right way to organize your next action reminders.

    Unfortunately - or fortunately - there is no such thing. While our coaches do start people off with some context to their action reminders, my personal recommendation is always to do what works for you.

    In coaching thousands of individuals, over 2 decades, we have not seen two people, ultimately, set up the same system. So, if your contexts serve you by area of focus, organize your reminders that way. Remember, the weekly review will tie all of this together, just make sure you're spending those 1-2 hours weekly looking through/over/at your entire action-reminder and project lists.


    • #3
      "Role" Categories

      Just FYI: There's another thread on the board that discusses the book "Managing Multiple Projects". One of the authors categorizes next his next actions by roles, as you do. I'd echo Jason's "if it works" advice...


      • #4
        focus and contexts

        If you're using outlook --there is a way around this --Chapura's new keysuite software and Dataviz's beyond contacts will allow you to assign multiple categories to an item on the palm . One category for context and another for focus area etc.

        Only drawback of this software --they use their own unique database to sync with outlook so you're by-passing the built in apps (and any 3rd party software you might use that accesses the built in db's )

        Sync's like a charm though --even at multiple computers.



        • #5
          All -

          There is a simpler "workaround" - and that is to start the name of the Task with the Action/Context needed. I remember reading a post where someone using a Blackberry did this (I believe).

          You could still establish your Roles or Categories of Improvement or Higher Altitude areas as your "Categories."

          I think this is almost an intuitive or conversational thing to do. For instance, even though I personally have an "@Calls" category on my Palm - I found I was reflexively starting to write tasks like "Call Howard about - - -" instead of simply "Howard re: - - -"

          You can also use this technique to create "sub-categories." For instance, under my "@Errands" category, I have tasks that start with "@Post" so I know what I have to mail/do at the Post Office.

          Using this technique consistenty, if you switch to a "View All" view on your Palm, you can see what actions you have to do in what context - no matter what "Bigger Picture" they tie into....

          FYI for MAC Users: Palm Desktop for Mac also lets you assign more than one category. Actually, Palm Desktop for Mac lets you do a LOT more things than the PC version or Outlook in some cases! (sigh)


          • #6
            Role vs. Context Action Lists

            Longstreet wrote:
            Now, one problem that I STILL have problems with is categorizing all of my next actions by context -- @calls, @computer, etc. I still find it most efficient for me if I use my life role categories -- @scientist, @mentor, @Family, etc. I have a computer wherever I am working -- in my office, my home office, my laptop on trips.

            I think most people plan based on roles or projects, but execution is based more on where you are, what time it is, and who you're with. Context-based action lists remind you of what you need to do in certain places. The calendar reminds you of what you need to do at certain times. And agendas remind you of what you need to do when you are with certain people.

            You keep a single calendar for all of your roles. Why wouldn't you keep a single set of action lists and agendas?

            Consider this example. In your role as scientist, you need to go to the post office to mail the article you have just written to a journal for publication. In your role as mentor, you need to go to the post office to mail a recommendation letter for one of your grad students. In your role as family member, you need to go to the post office to put in an order to hold your mail during your upcoming vacation. When you go to the post office, you will want to have all three of those things easily visible or you are more likely to forget one or two of them and end up having to go to the post office again...and again.


            • #7
              Context lists and roles

              Thanks for all of the replies. I have done what Rich has suggested and prefaced each next action with the context -- @Computer, @Office, @Anywhere, @Calls, etc. I have all of my next actions under the categories of my roles -- scientist, mentor, teacher, etc. This will work!

              Thanks for your excellent suggestions!



              • #8
                I keep going back to David’s example of the briefcase leaning against the door so that one does not forget to bring the work taken home back to the office: I want my system to “be in my way” so that I will not forget to do certain things when I am passing through particular locations.

                Obviously I can’t arrange for my organizer to be lying out in the middle of the floor at every location I need to act in. So, what I have to do is build habits and routines whereby I review my lists at key locations: setting out on an errands run; planning a Saturday; talking to Joe; sitting down at the computer.

                I hold onto this image of the briefcase at the door to remind me that the lists needs to actually intrude into my daily routine at key points in order for the system to work for me.



                • #9
                  Still works better for me based on major roles

                  Thanks for the comments. Upon seeing in other posts the many, varied ways people have adapted GTD context categories, I think the bottom line is one HAS to make the system work for them, and not worry that it is too much of a stray from GTD. I still embrace wholeheartedly the base and heart of GTD; I just find that contexts of @computer, @office, etc. all morph into one mess for me. Keeping my next actions lists separated by my major roles -- @research, @teaching, @service, @family, @supervisor, etc. works best for me.

                  Best regards to all,